Uterine fibroid embolization, or uterine artery embolization (also known as UFE or UAE), is a procedure that blocks the blood flow to a fibroid tumor, killing it and causing symptoms to subside. A fibroid (also known as a leiomyoma) is a benign, non-cancerous tumor that originates in the smooth muscle layer and connective tissue of the uterus. The procedure involves inserting a thin tube called a catheter through the groin, maneuvering it through the uterine artery, and injecting special tiny particles into the arteries that supply blood to the uterus and fibroids. As the fibroids die and begin to shrink, the uterus fully recovers. A trained physician specialist known as an interventional radiologist performs the minimally invasive procedure and uses a high-definition x-ray camera to help guide the catheter into the uterine artery to deliver the particles. It is performed in a special procedure room called an angiosuite. Patients receive either sedative medication or general anesthesia. Most patients are able to return to work within 1-2 weeks.
If you choose to have a uterine fibroid embolization procedure, you will be seen by an interventional radiologist. Interventional radiology is a medical specialty that uses minimally invasive techniques to diagnose and treat a wide range of health problems, and it is an integral part of comprehensive patient care. The UAB Medicine Interventional Radiology team is a dedicated group of skilled, innovative health care professionals who are committed to providing the highest quality of care to our patients.
The group uses the latest and most advanced technology and imaging methods, including fluoroscopy, ultrasound, and CT scans, to treat tumors as well as peripheral arterial, venous, urologic, and hepatobiliary diseases. Each of our five dedicated angiography suites has the full range of imaging technology needed for complex procedures, along with the latest in patient monitoring and documentation systems. Because UAB Medicine is an academic health center, patients may be offered participation in clinical research trials, which can give you access to new techniques and treatments that are not available elsewhere in the area.
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